Now that Kazakhstani oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov has been apprehended, banking officials in Kazakhstan are striving to recover as much as they can of the $6 billion he is accused of embezzling. Meanwhile, officials in Astana are pressing for Ablyazov’s extradition while his supporters contend he would not receive a fair trial in Kazakhstan.
Ablyazov, who is wanted for alleged financial misdeeds in Kazakhstan and other formerly Soviet states, and who is also a fugitive from British justice, was finally tracked down in southern France and arrested on July 31. He is now in a French jail facing two extradition bids, one from Ukraine, the other from Kazakhstan, where he is seen as public enemy number one by President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s administration. Officials in Astana have painted Ablyazov as a sophisticated con-man. Ablyazov, meanwhile, casts himself as a fighter for political principle and a victim of persecution.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.